Friday, 2 May 2014

Feminist View of Disney Princesses

Maybe it’s out of life-long loyalty (and stubbornness) to Beauty and the Beast, but I have to disagree on Belle – it may not be perfect, but next to Mulan (who is, in a word, awesome), she is the most outright feminist of Disney characters. She calls Gaston “primeval” for his attitude toward women and books. She kicks the asshole out of her house when he proposes and starts a song about how “absurd” it would be to be his “little wife.” The whole town notes how weird it is for a pretty girl to be so “odd” and into books, and she just ignores the hell out of all of them. She independently seeks adventure. She leaves the Beast for what’s important to her – her father. But then, they fall in love. I don’t think it’s her sexuality that “saves” the Beast. It’s just  love. And I think even we can enjoy a wildly fantastical love story now and again.

I find it a little funny as well that when we think about all of the men who “saved” these women, Aladdin is the only one and to a certain extent Price Eric, who are good guys in their own right, separate from the women. The Beast was a prick and the others had no redeeming characteristics other than the fact that they there were handsome. Which is really all a girl can ask for in a Disney movie. I find it ironic that Belle DID have the most going for her yet is treated the worst of all the Princesses by her Prince. 

I don’t really agree with a lot of the analysis in the pictures, but I think Disney movies are very problematic for all sorts of reasons they’re bringing up…and I think Mulan is actually one of the worst. The entire movie is reinforcing the notion that the only values worth upholding are traditionally ‘manly’ ones – and ‘manliness’ is defined through violence. Mulan even says at one point something about how she wanted to be something, make her life worthwhile… as if the lives of millions of Chinese women aren’t worthwhile! The whole movie is a gigantic romp through hatred of women and women’s cultures in favour of everything to do with men. Not to mention the utter racism – even putting aside the way over-the-top stereotypes of China, the villain in the film has FANGS and YELLOW EYES. Dehumanization, much?

This idea of the Princesses being judges soley on appearance is something that a lot of people have an opinion on. A lot of people agree with this feminist view on the Princesses, although it is argued that the Disney Princesses are all innocent and that they are just stories. But this is dangerous to children as they read/watch these stories thinking that they are innocent, when in fact it is subliminally going through to the children that this is what life is like, and this is what they should be doing. This is something I am going to try and fight against in my publication, showing that fairy tales don always end this way, specifically aiming it at Princesses. This is because young girls grow up looking up to the Princesses, dressing up like them and pretending to be them. The princesses are idols to young girls, which isn't something that needs changing, but the message that the Princesses send needs changing.

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